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GEMZAR Pain At Infusion Site


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First, thanks much to all for the warm welcome that I received following my first post last evening.

My wife experiences pain at the infusion site ( arm vein ) when the GEMZAR is administered. The nurses tell her that this is a common problem with GEMZAR. They say that ~ 50% of the GEMZAR patients end up having to get a central line because of this. My wife is in no mood for a central line at this time ( " I am sick and tired of being cut ! " ) They decrease the drip rate and apply heat which helps but this isn't going to solve the problem. She wants to try taking a Vicodin before treatment but I don't think that will sufficiently kill the pain. The Dr. and nurses state that the GEMZAR should be administered over ~ 30 minutes. They've got her drip rate so slow that it takes ~ 1 1/2 hours ! They also told her that the slower the drip rate the greater the damage to her blood. Does anybody have any experience with this problem ? If so, any suggestions as to how to remedy it would be greatly appreciated ?


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Oh, yes, yes, yes, Gemzar burns at the IV site. The good thing is that it only should last about 1/2 hour. I don't have any solutions except to say that once it's over, it doesn't burn anymore.......don't blame her one bit for not wanting a port. I was always told that the bigger the vein, the less it burns, but if she's like I was, those veins got pretty beat up and any vein they could get was gonna have to work. Good luck to her--

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Welcome, Bill and Mrs. Bill, to the site.

I am sorry for the discomfort your wife is experiencing.

This is the roller coaster ride from H--E--double hockey sticks for sure.

I am sure she's tired of being operated on.


to get a mediport in (what you're calling a central line), a brief procedure,

saves so much grief in the long run.

I have good veins, and the chemo, even through the port, made it difficult to find one that would accept the catheter for contrast for scans. That was 21 months later.

I STILL have the port for scan contrasts and blood draws, 4 years later.

I think, if your wife could ask the opinion of people with a lot of chemo under their belts, some who waited a while to get the port, she might reconsider.

I hope that you both can find some answers and some warmth and support here. Welcome to the family.


Prayers always,


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Steve just finished with Gemzar/Cisplatin. He has a PICC line instead of a port. (He had been scheduled to get a port, but his platelets were too low for surgery.) This is the second PICC line he has had and he hasn't had too many problems. The installation is fairly simple (but make sure to get someone who is VERY experienced with their insertion and maintenance!) The second PICC line did cause a bit of an infection, easily controlled by antibiotics. You do have to be more careful with a PICC because they are external and they have to be flushed and the dressing changed weekly, but Steve is very satisfied with it. Blood draws, transfusions, etc. all go through the PICC and you don't have the vein destruction which happens with chemo thru a regular IV.

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Weighing in on the side of the port. Somewhere on here is a thread on ports and everyone's feelings pro and con. There are more pro. It is a very short procedure and once you have it you aren't stuck all the time and it is virtually pain free as long as you put on the cream to numb it prior to treatment. It can be used not just for chemo but blood draws etc. She will no longer have the burning.

Now, when John started treatment he was rushed so fast he started chemo without the port. During a chemo session his vein collapsed and the chemo leaked into his arm. He had to have 12-15 shots around the site to neutralize the chemo. It was horrible. He has been very happy with his port because he is not good with needles at all.

All the best to you,


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Hi Bill,

I'm sorry that I can't help with the Gemzar as I was never on that chemo. My docs never gave me a port. I really don't know why either because I was on chemo once a week for three weeks and then off a week. I can't even count the times I was stuck, between the drawing the blood and the chemo treatment.

Best wishes


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I am so sorry that she has to go thru this. My husband's case is a lot like hers. :cry: He didn't have surgery. The gemzar shoud be admin. fairly quick because the sooner, the quicker the sting goes away. Not an hour and a half! what misery. It just breaks my heart to hear of her pain. I am so sorry........... :cry: May God help her.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi bill

My husband is on gemzar and he finds that the pain in not quite as severe if the nurses use a vein in his hand. The nurses think it is bizzare but it does seem to hurt less. It is giving over a 30 minute period and he uses hot packs to help also. Hope the next treatment will be easier.


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Hi, Bill.

The PICC line is a good compromise. It only requires a local. My mom has hers cleaned and flushed by a health service that comes to her house.

My mom has terrible veins, so she has to have something. Her oncology department discourages ports because they have to have a special nurse stay with the patient during chemo. I don't really understand, but she says the PICC line isn't much trouble.

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